Nightfly and Compression

I do agree with this analysis. When I boughtThe Nightfly on vinyl in the eighties with my bathtub EQ-ed hifi system it was a reference in sound quality. Since the real high-end arrived it is a really poor recording that I’d like to avoid because of that even though I still love the content. Too harsh, digital and without bottom end. With Windom The Nightfly did get some of its charm back. However, a 2020 remaster would still be high only wishlist!
Having described the ‘Nightfly effect’ I also have to say that initially I noticed the lack of airyness that Snowmass had in the top end. I guess that is the price we have today for the palpability and richness that comes in its place…

If you have Qobuz, they do have a 48/24 version of The Nightfly, which I think sounds great with Windom.

Really? I have an early 80’s “The Nightfly” CD that sounds just awesome. The only problem with it is that the bass is a little weak compared to the SACD (which uses the same mastering as the DVD-A release in 2002). Maybe the weak bass makes you think it is a “hot” recording. But seriously, there isn’t a “bad” mastering out there. Look here:

None of the masterings have any compression and the loudness war have not affected them. They all sound great except the DVD-A and the SACD sound best because they have the bass boosted by ~3dB.

I have the three best digital and the four best vinyl versions of Nightfly.

I agree the SACD sounds ok, even in bass. But don’t listen to the vinyl then. All of those four versions except maybe the old MFSL beat the digital versions clearly. Not only in bass but also in upper and lower mids and highs as well as soundstage. The new one step MFSL 45RPM is the very best by far, as not only the lower bass ist mastered right here but also upper bass. This is as you always wanted to hear this.

Nightfly is definitely an album to get on vinyl imo. The digital versions sound as you can live with them, but only until you hear the vinyl.

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The amount of compression used in making a recording does not dictate whether a recording sounds good; it is only how much compression was used. In fact, pop recordings like The Nightfly rely on compression to sound good.

As an example, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is heavily compressed but exhibits superb sound.


I agree completely. I have the SACD & CD. I bought the LP when it was released in October 82 and the original LP is the BEST version!

How do the LPs sound better? Soundstage, frequency balance, mix, transparency, etc? Everything? :slight_smile:

Demonstratively better. :grinning:

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Yes, yes and yes. It still has a sound that is not as full as some other Fagen or Dan records, but the one that I have, from the “Cheap Xmas” set, made me realize the sound of this album doesn’t have to suck.

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I believe mine is the 48/24 rip off the dvd-a- of the nightfly. It sounds to me like a good dvd-a. Bouncy strong bass … unlimited highs … layers of sound. Saying all of that - I still think the recording sounds a little hot. And I think it sounds better on windom. I could see the vinyl possibly sounding better as the upper edges might be less ‘there’.

The vinyl version of the “Cheap Xmas” box set remaster of the Nightfly is excellent. I thought the original record was good also. The album was recorded digitally and ironically the CD doesn’t come close - sounds as you described.

Sent this after I sent mine - you have the vinyl version?

Yes, the vinyl box set. Another fab sounding track is on the extras disc, “Century’s End”.

How do you know that?

I’ve listened to the best vinyl and don’t really agree with your assessment. First, let’s not forget that “The Nightfly” is a digital recording. Second, look here:

The best vinyl does not have the bass of the SACD.

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Yuck. I hate the sound of compression. Compression, by the way, is used in the mastering process, not when recording. Give me a flat transfer any day…

Compression is heavily used in recording/mixing, especially on vocals, bass guitar, and drums.

Pop music would not sound the way it does without track compression. It is critical.

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I’ll read it later…the old MFSL as the best version makes me curious…I also have it.

Yes, compression is used in the mixing and often in mastering. But I am talking about the massive compression you see today with tracks that have 4dB of dynamic range versus the 12dB to 18dB you see on the better CDs made in the pre 90’s.

Read this:

It is also often used “on the way in” during tracking. When it is done properly and not excessively you do not notice it.

Certain genres of music use it heavily, during tracking, mixing, on the mix’s stereo output buss, etc. and that is typically an aesthetic choice to make everything “in your face”, compete with similar material, sound as loud as possible when streaming on phones to earbuds, etc.